Bro Paulaseer Lawrie
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; I Timothy 2:5
Photograph of Bro R Paulaseer Lawrie was taken at S.I.A.A Grounds Madras-1961
Bro Lawrie came from a traditional Christian family, and his great grandfather embraced Christianity about 160 years ago. His grandfather and parents believed in the rituals of the Church. Bro. Lawrie was baptized as an infant by the Reverend Samuel in a Church at Munnar, Travancore Diocese Until he was excommunicated, Brother Lawrie was a Church-going Christian even though he rebelled against most of the Church rituals, which, according to him, have now become empty ceremonies the true meaning of which is lost in obscurity. The urge to seek the real God and to worship him truthfully was always present in his mind.
Those who had known him as a youth seldom suspected his longing for God. Burning with patriotic fervour he took a leading part in the Quit India Movement of 1942. He started a student agitation and organized a strike in his college. Politics failed to grip him nor did regular Church going appease his hunger for the true meaning of God. While in Ceylon, he studiously read all the religious books he could find. The Vedas, Koran, and Bhagavad Gita all created an impression on his mind, which he could quote in his speeches and writings. He also studied the writings of saints such as Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Yogananda, Aurobindo Ghosh and many others. His quest only ended on that day in 1943 when he had a vision of Lord Jesus which changed his life for ever.
Bro. Lawrie was a man who lived a simple life and was humble. He did not consider himself as someone who is superior to other human beings. But he was really a great man. He became great in every activity he undertook whether it was football (soccer) or ministry. He had perseverance and was fully dedicated to whatever activity he undertook. He made stepping stones out of obstacles. None could deviate him from his vision. Nothing could escape from his eagle eyes. He never went after luxury. Even though he had a direct call from God, he was always unassuming. His message was simple but forceful, and much more than that, it had the power in it to draw people in multitudes as long as the meetings continued. He was a good conversationalist who could keep you spellbound for hours and boost your ego up sky high. But at other times you don’t understand him at all, and any man not on the Word would break off with a huff.
Almost every time it was his adamant stand on the Word that has caused rifts between him and his close associates. As a human being, one could find many foibles in him. But where the most saintly of saints have stumbled or backslidden, Bro. Lawrie stood fast on the Word of God – never swaying to the right or to the left. When it came to standing on the Word, Bro. Lawrie never cared what others had to say, whether he was a friend or foe. Even the bitterest criticism would not make him budge from the stand he takes on the Word, and he went about with supernatural energy to vindicate his stand. He was physically well and strongly built too, to spend any amount of energy in this life.
Many left Brother Lawrie when he began to expound this message of the Bride and also because of his followers honoured him with the title “Son of Man”. Yet amongst his staunch followers are scientists, scholars, successful executives and businessman from India and abroad. He had a rough exterior and the looks of a wrestler, ready to battle the world, rather than a godly man going about fighting the evils of the world, he never put on the airs of the Sadhus who assume a far-away look in their eyes and go about with unsmiling long-drawn faces. On the contrary, Bro. Lawrie could crack a joke and laugh wholeheartedly at anything amusing. Nor did he wear any dress to distinguish himself from the common man, unlike the men of divinity, who go about in robes or other distinctive dress, and sport a beard or long hair to be recognized as saints.
Bro. Lawrie not only appeared to be rough and tough, but he really was. He had built his body like that in his younger days, playing robust soccer and taking seriously to other manly games as wrestling and boxing. This helped him in his later days when he could boldly stand up to any bully. Still later in his life, this gave him the physical fitness and stamina to withstand the tremendous strain of the ministry. One wondered how a human physique could stand such a beating. During the campaign days he would go on preaching to tens of thousands of people for hours on end, and follow it up to continue the healing by praying for the sick, the maimed and the possessed, for another three to four hours. On campaign days I have never seen him quit his post until long past midnight.
His close associates had observed that he would talk to a single individual for hours if he finds in that person a ray of hope for bringing him to the saving influence of the Lord Jesus Christ. So one could easily make the deduction that the ‘X’ factor for the source of his abundant energy was this zeal for saving the lost sheep of God. Such painstaking stint would make one feel that he was a patient man. He was patient on such matters only. Whatever he was, his sole concern was the successful completion of the commission that had been given to him by God. For furthering that cause and objective, he would go to any lengths.
His way of work also was out of the ordinary. He committed himself to the will of God in everything he did, and would not stand to any reason if he feels it is against His wishes. Many friends and well-wishers have been so displeased with him because of this, and some have even walked out on him. Bro. Lawrie was a shrewd man in dealing with men or worldly matters. He could read a man inside out after having a few minutes’ conversation with him, so much so that people who come in close contact with him fear to think or act wrongly. Consciously he had read the thoughts of many persons that had baffled all. It may be, his thoughts transcend space and time, and he uses this armour effectively for God’s work.
He did not forget faces no matter how long ago he had seen them, Yes. He had a stupendous memory both of faces and facts. He had gone round the world many times and must have met many people. Yet he never forgot those persons if he confronted them again. Even the school-day friends were green in his memory. Whenever they met, Bro. Lawrie always swapped stories of their boyhood pranks. Another remarkable quality one could notice in him is that he, either carelessly or due to overstrain, did not let anything happening around him, escape his attention. He might have been engaged most attentively in typing some important letters, or in a most serious conversation with others or even giving God’s messages, yet his eyes (are they eagle’s eyes!) would be swirling round and eyeing the happenings around him.
Moreover, his whole-time engagement in the ministry, though really so much burdensome, did not make him to neglect his other responsibilities, for instance, towards the conduct of his family affairs, every detail of which receives his close attention. The upbringing of his three boys in the most talented way to assist him in God’s work will bear ample evidence to this trait of his. The quality noblest of all was his humility. For a man chosen of God, he was most unassuming and simple. Another characteristic that sticks out boldly is his complete honesty and love for truth. His candidness in everything, even in his own life, was surprising. He did not spare himself, and admitted his misdeeds and mistakes, a thing we seldom find in most of the pastors or preachers.
He always gave glory to God, and no one had ever heard him take the credit on himself for anything small or great. He made a vow before God that he would never take Gold or the Glory of God. Though he has been endowed with all the qualities of head and heart required of a leader, he never imposed his leadership on anyone. Himself the most independent man, he liked everyone with him to be independent, having their connections with their Creator, as led by the Holy Spirit without anyone’s control. ‘Compliance through love’ is what he wished the people with him, to give him.
He could adapt himself to any person. He could play with a child as a child: discuss with the youth their problems, at their level. It was a trait in him that he was lenient with the young and strict with the elders. He was at home in any company, whether he be a millionaire or a man on the street, a saint or a sinner. One of the great forces he had was his utter disregard for the riches of this world. The rich were peeved of this because their money could not buy him. He could be be very friendly with the rich people of the world, but never spared them if he had known that they were wrong.
Running an Ashram of about 300 inmates and catering to the physical and spiritual needs of hundreds of persons in three centres which were directly under his care, entails solving myriads of problems which require the wisdom of a Solomon and the leadership of a Moses. He is greater than them all. The Manujothi Ashram he had founded did not have modern amenities such as electricity those days. Yet members of the Ashram – most of whom came from affluent countries – loved staying here with Brother Lawrie. People in hundreds trudged the dusty footpaths that linked the Ashram with the outside world to be with Bro. Lawrie even if it was only for a few minutes.
After preaching many times around the world Brother Lawrie had grown immensely in spiritual stature. He commanded a following in many countries of the world. Yet he steered clear of all denominational wrangles of the different Churches. He used to state that he belonged only to Christ. Nor could he be bought by any Church or group at any price! In the Schooldays we had learnt a poem “The Deserted Village” written by an Irish Poet Oliver Goldsmith in 1770. In the poem there are a few lines about the Village Preacher which I have given below:-
“……..with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.
These lines describe the Village Preacher. In the ministry of Bro. Paulaseer Lawrie, It was the order of the day even though it is an understatement compared with the Power of God that manifested in the ministry in an immensely great way.
Sister Ebenezer Lawrie
Photograph of Bro Lawrie & Sis Ebenezer Lawrie
The biography of Bro. Lawrie is not complete without reference to the great help rendered by his wife Ebenezer Natchathiram Lawrie in his ministry. Throughout all the hard trials and severe testing the whole family was drilled through, she had been a staunch help and an inspiration. She had boundless energy, administrative acumen and eagerness to serve God, which goes to prove that she was truly the God-chosen wife of this man, who has such a great position in the plan of God for future ages.
Sister Lawrie was born in Toungoo in Myanmar (Burmah) on June 10, 1928. Her father Mr. V.D. Gnanam was an accountant in the Public Works Department for the British Government in Myanmar when she was born. She was the 4th child of her family. In the year 1935, the family came back to India and settled at their village called Nallur, Tirunelveli District. Their entire family was a God-fearing family and prayerful. Both parents were upright and so were the children. Every Sunday the children were asked to memorize Scriptures and keep singing the Hymns almost all the time after the morning Church service. Before Sis. Lawrie had completed her High School, she had read the whole Bible three times from cover to cover. In spite of it she was just a church-going Christian and had no experience of salvation.
She had some college education in the Sarah Tucker College, for Women at Tirunelveli for two years. Her college curriculum included some teacher’s training too. Before she finished her college education, her marriage was fixed and she was engaged to Bro. Paulaseer Lawrie. Only at the time of engagement did she come to know that Bro. Lawrie was a close friend of her elder brother Raja Simeon. Bro. Lawrie had experienced salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ even before his marriage. Therefore after marriage he asked his wife whether she had been saved. She said she was going to church regularly and that she had read the Bible three times and prayed everyday and therefore she would go to heaven.
She could not understand salvation. This led to arguments between them. When Bro. Lawrie would go to prayer meetings, she would go to the movies with the women in the neighbourhood. She was not co-operating with Bro. Lawrie in spiritual things. It was later that she could experience salvation and receive the Peace of God. In her exercise of discipline, she used to be stern. She was a no nonsense person when it came to enforcing discipline especially in her children. She was dedicated to bringing up the children in the Godly way. She used to sing hymns as lullabies to get her children to sleep. Her favourite bed-time stories were about Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath, Manna, Life and miracles of Jesus Christ etc. which she could tell in a gripping manner holding the attention of children.
Her eldest son Deva-Evu says that those bed-time stories are still green in his mind. She even made him finish reading the Gospel of St. John in Tamil completely when he was four years old. Thereafter she encouraged him to read the Bible. She also made him read “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan which he read many times and made it one of his favourite books next to the Bible. When the eldest son Deva-Evu was dying of Diphtheria she and Bro. Lawrie promised that they would relinquish their livelihood at Sri Lanka and return to India to do the Lord’s Work. But it was only when Bro. Lawrie had the attack of diphtheria at the American Hospital (CMCH), Vellore that she committed herself wholly for the ministry and promised to co-operate with her husband fully in the ministry.
Thereafter Sister Lawrie was on fire for God and nothing could stop her. Her indefatigable labour had been a major contribution in the ministry. She was in total charge of the correspondence of the ministry. She used to sit almost day and night to reply letters. She used to reply the letters prayerfully quoting appropriate Scriptures to encourage people in their spiritual lives. She used to take down the addresses whenever people came and met Bro. Lawrie or her and saw to it that some letter or book was dispatched to them. Even if she found somebody’s old address she used to write something and send. According to the spiritual depth and standard of the person concerned, she knew what book to send to that person. She had a very strong memory and could remember faces and facts to the minutest detail.
She saw to it that the Message books of Bro. Branham too were sent out to all those thousands of addresses. She had the ability to get others too involved actively in the work connected with correspondence and other fields and supervise them as the ministry grew. She would patiently teach them how to write letters and also how to make book packets to send out. She knew the Bible very well and was a living concordance. Even Bro. Lawrie sometimes referred to her for Bible data and other information. While preaching, if he was stuck up for reference or a name, all he had to do was to have a quick glance in her direction. She would immediately respond with the necessary information, like a living computer.
In the early ministry, she was a powerful preacher of the truth. She sometimes used to interpret for Bro. Lawrie in the vernacular when he spoke in English. Later she found that the Word of God forbade the women to preach through the messages of William Branham. Thereafter she stopped preaching in the meetings. Sis. Lawrie had multifarious duties to perform in the day-to-day activities of the Ashram, and she was always busy from morning till late in the night, solving problems and catering to the needs of those in the Ashram, especially the ladies and also entertaining visitors. She was well-loved and respected by all members.
In spite of the great ministry the Lawries had, she always was humble and kept a low profile. She could not bear to see anything wasted whether it was food or anything. Even for the ordinary simple things she could find some good use. She was always level-headed and was not carried away by emotions or flattery. She was very much devoted to her duties. When the Moon-landing message of Bro. Lawrie was explained to her, she found it difficult to swallow it at first as she was the wife of the very person concerned and knew all about him. It was after checking with the Scriptures and the message of Bro. Branham that she found the message and experience to be in order.
Sister Lawrie was never a ‘yes-man’ of Bro. Lawrie who would take any new message at face value. She had to see it in the Scriptures. In all the years of the ministry her unending support complemented the work of Bro. Lawrie and the ministry. Bro. Lawrie many times said, when his faith would be wavering, in times of difficulty she would be the strong one encouraging him to go forward saying, God would provide. On August 29, 1990, our dear and well beloved Sister Lawrie passed away. She was 61 years old. It was exactly one and a half years after the departure of Bro. Lawrie. Her exemplary life was one of spiritual dedication to her God, to her husband, to her children and grandchildren, and to the ministry.
She was affectionately called Amma (mother) by many, and indeed she was spiritual mother to a multiple of hundreds who were inspired by her life. She is sorely missed by the people of this ministry. It is thought that she had a premonition of her impending death. She was not ill or bed-ridden. A few days before her death, she had been busy cleaning her rooms and she was telling her grandchildren that she was going to see Bro. Lawrie. A few months earlier she had a very vivid dream that she was in heaven before a very great mansion. Bro. Lawrie was standing at the door and took her inside the lovely place. He said, “See the place I have prepared for you.” We can be sure we shall see her at the resurrection of the dead saints.
Family Photography was taken when they started their full time ministry on October 15th 1953.
Family Photograph was taken at Chennai in 1961, while his children were in schooling
Family Photography was taken taken when his children gone to their higher studies.